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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

L'Affaire d'Amour
C'est Magnifique at Teatro Zinzanni

Teatro Zinzanni
Liliane Montevecchi
L'Affaire d'Amour, the latest extravaganza of mirth, music, circus and gourmet cuisine to open at Teatro Zinzanni, is an ample and unique evening out, especially for those theater fans looking for the best bang for their buck. Headlined by the indomitable Liliane Montevecchi (last seen here eons ago in a tour of Grand Hotel) and comic cut-up Frank Ferrante as Chef Caesar, the show is tight and tantalizing. As much as I enjoyed a 2005 visit to Teatro Zinzanni, the show had some issues commingling the different types of entertainment. Not this time around.

Montevecchi (in her Seattle premiere at Zinzanni) is a Gallic marvel. She still looks like a billion francs and puts across her songs in whisky-voiced splendor with one-of-a-kind flair and fervor. Her act two showcase of such varied songs as "Just a Gigolo," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Le Tempsm," and "Carousel" by Jacques Brel, and the heartbreaking Jerry Herman waltz ballad "I Don't Want to Know" from Dear World is utterly magical and immensely moving. Ferrante's chef Caesar, a Seattle Zinzanni mainstay, is a zany delight, and I have seldom seen a performer draw so much out of the audience members he enlists for his various amusing bits. Elena Serafimovich thrills as she contorts herself in an amazing aerial hoop act. Actor, dancer, comedian Wayne Doba and his real-life wife, the Betty-Boop voiced Andrea Conway, are the chief clowns of the evening as Dick and Mitzi, and their conic dance routine is like an amazing collision of Astaire/Rogers and Burns/Allen. From her high comic interaction with patrons to her operatic arias, Julianna Rambaldi is the reigning soprano supreme of the evening.

Other sparkling elements of the evening are the Russian acrobatic team Duo Artemiev with a daunting tango on the trapeze, jaunty juggler/musician Sergiy Krutikov, the remarkable foot juggling act The Brothers Les Castors, and Oleg Izossimov's terrific balancing act. Musical director/pianist/keyboardist Norman Durkee and his trio of versatile musicians offer stellar musical support. And the food is delicious and definitely not "dinner theatre" fare, including a vegetarian option.

Teatro Zinzanni changes its headliners and shows several times a year, often swapping and alternating talent from its sister operation in San Francisco. Liliane Montevecchi is reason enough to catch this edition, if one needs a reason to treat themselves to a superb night on the town.

L'Affaire d'Amour runs through August 5, 2007 at Teatro Zinzanni, 6th and Battery Street in downtown Seattle. For more information go on-line at www.zinzanni.org.



- David-Edward Hughes



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